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Top Tips to Avoid Unexpected Charges

By: Lynne Conner - Updated: 8 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Comparison Shopping Additional Fee

Whether you are buying a cheap mobile phone or an expensive new car always take some time for comparison shopping. Look at the different offers available, especially any additional fees and charges before making your purchase. What looks like the cheapest deal at first sight may not be once you know the full costs involved.

Know What you Want

This especially applies in areas such as banking, insurance and even holidays. Start with a clear idea of what aspects of a product are essential to you and which just aren’t necessary to you. Do you want to pay for a bank account when you will never make use of the benefits such as cheap hotel bookings? Is a taxi transfer from the airport needed when you know there is a good, cheap local train service?

The clearer you are about what you do and do not the more you can control the spiraling costs of hidden and unwanted additional fees. Never feel pressurised into making a purchase until you feel ready and do not let salespeople ‘convince’ you that an add-on is essential when you don’t actually want or need it.

Consider Buying Online

If you take simple precautions it is now relatively safe to pay for items online. Many goods and services, from savings accounts to booking flights abroad charge higher, hidden fees for telephone and personal transactions compared to those you make online.

Provided you have easy access to a computer this can be an easy way to avoid the cost of hidden fees. It also enables you to access the many useful price comparison sites now available for many types of goods and services.

Read the Small Print

It cannot be stressed enough. Take some time to read through the terms and conditions before you sign a contract. From penalty clauses to early repayment fees this is where many hidden charges lurk. Be very clear about what you are committing to before you sign and do not be put off by jargon designed to mislead you.

Get Advice

If necessary get appropriate advice, especially for major purchases. Seek out an expert, take read a book on the subject or visit your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Question the person you are entering into a contract with to be sure you understand any jargon. Take advantage of all the help and resources available to make sure you are aware of the possible pitfalls.

Know Your Rights

Developing the last point, know your rights as a consumer. Find out which fees are reasonable and which can be challenged or refused. With this information you can stand your ground when confronted with hidden fees. And if you are hit with them you can also stand up for yourself in communications with the offending business, and if necessary seek support from the appropriate public body such as the Office of fair Trading.

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